Europe is not known for its pristine wilderness, but Tusker has found a spectacular remnant of it in Iceland’s far north peninsula called the West Fjords.
With just 7,300 people living in this mostly roadless region connected by a narrow 3.5 mile isthmus to the rest of Iceland, the West Fjords is the icing atop Iceland’s fire and ice cake.
With thousands of puffins, fulmars and guillemots nesting on the sheer bird cliffs as arctic fox roam freely on the grassy hillsides, the West Fjords appear to the adventure traveler as they did to the Vikings 1000 years ago. It’s one of nature’s time warped places, pristinely surviving because it’s remote and hard to exploit. The area is off limits throughout the winter because of heavy snow.
Hike into Hornstrandir
Tusker’s nine day trip to the West Fjords maximizes the near 24 hour August daylight in the Iceland backcountry. Most adventure tours focus on the country’s southern ring road which most tourists do, but you are not likely to see anyone but your fellow Tusker adventurers and the curious arctic fox once you hike into the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
A 40 minute flight from Reykjavik to Isafjordur, the West Fjord’s 4,000 person “metropolis,” puts the adventure traveler within a short ferry ride of Hornvik Bay and the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. From the beach it’s a hike into Hornstrandir’s highlands where Tusker’s basecamp is set up. The 10 kilometer hike with a 500 meter elevation gain puts you in perhaps the most pristine environment between Reykjavik and Greenland which is over 750 miles across the Denmark Straits.
A hike to the bird cliffs of Hornbjarg is filled the cacophony of thousands of birds nesting and diving into the ocean below the jagged windswept cliffs. The sea trail leads down to the shore where a boat takes the group back to Isafjörður and then on to Suðureyri for a plunge into the town’s hot pool and a night in a fisherman’s guest house.
Waterfalls and Viking ships
The area around Patreksfjörður is rich in Viking lore and natural history. The Dynjandi Waterfall is among Iceland’s largest and the trail alongside it offers the Tusker crew a chance to enjoy the country’s free flowing wonderment. It’s not a bad lunch stop either. Not far are the bird cliffs of Látrabjarg perhaps the biggest bird cliff colony on the continent. The six kilometer trail follows cliffs that march out into the ocean.
For a dot on the map, Hnjót offers a large slice of Icelandic history. The museum there spans Viking ships and airplanes while the guides can fill in what happened in between. For the night the group hunkers down at Flókalundur a country hotel where HrafnaFlóki the Viking settled and gave Iceland its name.
Finding true adventure
HrafnaFlóki was looking for a new life in a land undisturbed and found it. In a sense today’s adventure traveler is doing the same thing seeking off the beaten path true adventure that will connect us to the Viking in all of us. He found it and so will we in the West Fjords on Tusker’s diverse Iceland adventure.